Superman is one of the most iconic superheroes of all time, and his secret identity as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent has been a well-kept secret for decades. However, throughout the history of DC Comics, a handful of characters have been privy to this closely guarded secret. In this article, we will be exploring 10 DC Characters Who First Discovered Superman’s Secret Identity and the impact this knowledge had on their relationships with the Man of Steel. From Lois Lane to Batman, these characters each have a unique perspective on Superman and his alter ego, making for an intriguing journey through the world of DC Comics. So, let’s dive in and discover who these characters are and how they first uncovered the truth about Superman’s secret identity.
10 DC Characters Who First Discovered Superman’s Secret Identity
For years, Batman and Superman had shared the covers of World’s Finest Comics, yet their first team-up occurred in an issue of Superman. Due to an overbooked cruise ship, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent were forced to share a cabin. Their respective alter egos were discovered when a jewel thief staged a spectacular robbery, prompting both men to take action.
Together, they embarked on a mission to apprehend the thief, but their efforts were complicated by the presence of Lois Lane, who threatened to expose their secret identities. It wasn’t until Batman disguised himself as Clark Kent upon the ship’s arrival in port that they were finally able to throw Lois off their trail. Despite their initial challenges, the dynamic duo’s first collaboration proved to be a memorable one.
Prior to Supergirl’s introduction to readers, Bizarro made his first appearance and demonstrated knowledge of Superboy’s secret identity. Being a duplicate, Bizarro possessed several of Superboy’s memories, including his place of residence. This caused Ma Kent to be frightened upon finding Bizarro sitting at the dinner table.
During Bizarro’s first adult appearance, the imperfect copycat dressed in Clark Kent’s attire and came perilously close to revealing Superman’s secret identity to Lois Lane. In response, Superman quickly burned off Bizarro’s clothing. Unaware of the potential threat he posed, Bizarro unknowingly endangered Superman’s secret from being exposed.
At their debut, the Legion of Super-Heroes was comprised of three teenagers from the future whose purpose was to enlist Superboy into their superhero team. As denizens of the 30th century, they were already privy to Superboy’s secret identity. Saturn Girl was the final member of the trio to approach Superboy and even extended her well wishes to his foster parents, the Kents.
After their introduction, Superboy traveled with the trio to the 30th century where he underwent a series of challenges as part of the Legion hazing. Despite losing three contests to other heroes, Superboy proved himself to be a good sport.
Approaching Superboy while he was on patrol in Smallville, the leader of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Cosmic Boy, waved and addressed him by his secret identity as Clark Kent, which made Superboy feel uneasy. Although Superboy tried to ignore him, Cosmic Boy, being from the future, already knew his true identity, as would anyone who had visited the Superman Museum. It was Cosmic Boy who orchestrated the hazing of Superboy as a way to test his heroism and leadership skills. In the end, Superboy passed the test with flying colors by duplicating the abilities of the Legionnaires and saving South Pole City from freezing.
Superman’s adoptive parents played a significant role in his story since their first appearance in the inaugural issue of Superman, and they continued to feature in numerous other stories. However, it was eventually revealed that by the time of Superman’s adventures, his adoptive parents had passed away, with his father even imparting advice to him on his deathbed in one appearance. Over time, his father’s appearance underwent significant changes until the Superboy stories, but it was not until Superboy #3 that he demonstrated knowledge of his son’s secret dual identity.
In the pre-Crisis canon, the Earth-Two Superman was never depicted as Superboy, meaning that the first appearance of the Earth-One Superman should at least be considered the debut of Superboy in 1945. This timeline also corresponds with Pa Kent’s appearance gradually settling on that of an older, heavier man, although More Fun Comics #101 depicted him with a mustache. By Superboy #3, his appearance had become consistent, and within a year, his name had been permanently settled as Jonathan.
Initially, Krypto served as Jor-El’s test subject for his experimental rocket, which would later carry baby Kal-El to Earth. After crash-landing near Smallville, Krypto, having matured from a puppy to a dog, struggled with his loyalty, canine instincts, and superhuman Kryptonian abilities, often causing difficulties for Superboy.
Krypto’s presence almost jeopardized Superboy’s identity, as Lana Lang caught Clark carrying a steel girder. Utilizing his x-ray vision, Krypto deduced Clark’s alter ego, which led Superboy to fear that his superpowered pet would raise suspicion. Luckily, Krypto eventually decided to embark on a solitary journey through space, relieving Superboy of any concerns regarding his pet’s loyalty.
For a considerable time, Superman’s parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, remained anonymous in their appearances within the DC Comics universe. In fact, they were often referred to by different names, adding to the mystery surrounding them. However, it wasn’t until the third issue of Superboy that they began to take on the familiar form that readers have come to recognize. Though Martha’s name was not yet revealed, she was depicted as altering Superboy’s costume to accommodate his growth.
Interestingly, Martha was previously referred to as Mary, Sarah, and Marthe, and her visual representation was not consistent until DC Comics began publishing Superman’s adventures as a young boy. Despite appearing in Superboy’s debut in More Fun Comics #101, there is no indication that she was aware of Superboy’s true identity until the third issue of Superboy.
Unexpectedly, someone who hailed from another world turned out to know Superman’s secret identity. On his visit to Xenon, a planet that bears a striking resemblance to Krypton, Superman encounters a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to his father, as well as that man’s son, who is a spitting image of the Man of Steel.
In order to tackle the issue of natural calamities occurring on Xenon, Superman swaps places with Kell Orr. While Kell Orr poses as Clark Kent and Superman, he carelessly arouses the suspicion of Lois Lane. Upon his return to Xenon, Superman resolves the crisis just in time to prevent the planet from exploding like Krypton.
When Superboy encountered Lightning Boy, who later changed his name to Lightning Lad, it marked the first meeting between the young superhero and the Legion of Superheroes. Although Lightning Boy recognized Superboy as Clark Kent, the bespectacled teen brushed it off, but deep down, he felt uneasy that his secret identity was potentially exposed. However, as a time traveler, Lightning Boy possessed knowledge that was common in his era, making Clark’s worries unfounded.
As the final member of the Legion to test Superboy, Lightning Lad demonstrated his skills by rescuing a stranded spaceship through the creation of an electrical message that could be seen across space. He also added an additional challenge by releasing an elusive, invisible bird that Superboy had to capture before proceeding to rescue the spaceship.
It wasn’t until two years after their first team-up that Batman’s sidekick learned the secret identity of Superman. This wasn’t due to a lack of trust, but rather the Boy Wonder’s absence from previous missions. Together, Robin, Batman, and Superman decided to switch identities, openly revealing Clark Kent’s alter ego to the world on the title page.
Working alongside Batman, Robin devised a plan to make Lois Lane believe that Bruce Wayne was Superman. Meanwhile, Superman was rendered unconscious by Kryptonite and left unattended by criminals. Lois stumbled upon him and assumed Clark had disguised himself as Batman to get a scoop. When she saw Superman and Bruce Wayne together, her doubts about her instincts deepened.